Instead, I quickly found myself on an unlit, half-paved drive, surrounded by overgrown brush. The drive narrowed as I crested a small rise—only to find myself at the edge of a vast expanse of muddy gravel. S. 14th Street, it seems, currently dead-ends in a vacant lot behind a currently under-construction Walgreens. The only way out, since S. 14th is a one-way street, appeared to be driving toward the already-constructed parking lot. I drove slowly across the gravel, headed for the parking lot—only to find myself stuck in the mud right next to what turned out to be a curb. After a series of fits and starts, I finally got my car unstuck—and came down with a big crunch on the other side of the curb.
Hyperventilating, I parked next to the building, where the light was better, and got out to check the car. Nothing creaked or popped or looked obviously broken, so after moving a traffic barrel to secure safe passage out of the lot, I made my way home on I-44.
Tomorrow, Alderwoman Phyllis Young is going to be hearing from me. I can't believe they don't have that street blocked off.
Edit 1: I moved my car the following morning and checked the street where I'd been parked, and saw several fresh oil spots. I took a flashlight and peered under the car, and it looked like the plastic housing over the oil-filter area had come partially dislodged. I couldn't see anything else that looked obviously damaged, but it was clear a visit to Dobbs was in my future. Thanks, Ward 7 and Koman Properties!
Edit 2: Read my letter to Alderwoman Young (which I addressed to her and a small selection of others by certified mail) here.
Edit 3: Read a transcript of Alderwoman Young's response here.